Former NUIG head to study academic freedom


AN INTERNATIONAL study on academic freedom is due to be undertaken by former NUI Galway president Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh in conjunction with the New York University Scholars at Risk Network.

Dr Ó Muircheartaigh, who retired in 2008 after a seven-year term as NUI Galway president, says that the study is the first of its type. It will survey the state of freedom in universities and colleges worldwide in a five-year research programme.

The Scholars at Risk Network, hosted by New York University, is an international non-governmental organisation which raises awareness about academics at risk and organises sanctuary for professors, lecturers, researchers and other intellectuals who suffer threats in their home country through temporary academic positions. In return, scholars contribute to their host campuses through teaching, research, lectures and other activities.

Many scholars return to their home countries after their visits.

Dr Ó Muircheartaigh said that he had always been interested in employing his skills as a statistician in the human rights area. Currently, he is fundraising for the project, with a projected budget of $500,000 (€380,633) annually.

Dr Ó Muircheartaigh holds two adjunct professorships at NUIG since his retirement, at the college’s Irish Centre for Human Rights and at its Clinical Research Facility.

He has recently been appointed a director of Murray Spelman insurance, mortgage and financial services provider.

He is also cathaoirleach/chair at Gaillimh le Gaeilge, an organisation which promotes bilingualism in the city.